Platform: Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3
Reviewed by Brady Ruiters
The first Mass Effect game was a breath of fresh air. It combined RPG elements with that of a third-person-shooter to create a title that would immediately take the gaming world by storm with its brilliantly crafted story. Mass Effect 2 was no different in terms of story quality but it did ramp up the gameplay, turning it into a very well balanced game. Fans have been patiently waiting for the third game and the series to finally take the fight to the Reapers. Developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, Mass Effect 3 is here and is ready to take back the Earth from the Reapers. Are you?
Mass Effect 3 continues the story of Commander Shepard, the hero or heroine who has saved the galaxy countless times. When we last saw Shepard, he was working with the organisation called Cerberus in order to destroy the Collectors. Mass Effect 3 picks up a few months after the conclusion of the previous game and doesn’t waste any time when getting to the story. A few minutes after starting the campaign, the action starts with the Reapers attacking Earth. Admiral Anderson then orders Shepard to escape in the Normandy and then request support from the Council. This is where the real task begins. Our hero will to gather support from all the alien races in the galaxy so that the Reapers may possibly be defeated. The story may sound very simple but the journey is really an amazing one. Being a Mass Effect game, the storytelling is a vital part of the series and Mass Effect 3 is no different. However, I did have an issue with the side missions in the game. This time around, walking around areas and overhearing conversations initiates these missions. While I had no problem with the acquisition of the missions, I did have a problem with the tasks themselves. They seem to lack depth and are mostly fetch-quests to help Shepard get support for the war.
The characters are a very important part of the Mass Effect universe. After a few hours, you can’t help but just feel emotionally attached to them. Players will be able to learn about characters’ histories, their fears and their hopes by just conversing with them. Fans of the series will see new faces but will also see some very familiar faces from the earlier instalments. We also get to see a new side of Shepard as he copes with losses on the battlefield and struggles with the pressure of saving the galaxy from the Reapers. The plot may be an exciting one but it’s the characters that make the experience worthwhile.
A feature that is returning is the ability to import your save file from the previous games. This will change a how the story plays out at certain times as decisions in the previous games will carry over into Mass Effect 3. Also, it is recommended that newcomers to the series should play Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 before diving into the latest title as they may feel out of the loop otherwise.
Mass Effect 3 plays nearly identical to Mass Effect 2 save for a few changes. As mentioned before, the game controls like a third-person, cover-based shooter and this system still works quite well. Shepard and co. are still able to duck behind and launch over cover, blind fire and sprint. However, to make evasion a little flashier, Shepard and his team can do a dive roll forward, backwards and to the side. There is also a new strong melee attack in which our hero converts his Omni-tool into a blade that deals a large amount of damage. It really comes in handy in those hairy situations. These new features really make combat a little more enjoyable. When starting up the game, players are able to choose which class they’d like to play as. These range from the weapon-driven Soldier class to the Biotic attack-driven Vanguard class. Squad mates with different abilities can be chosen for missions to create a team capable of handling nearly any enemy that may be encountered. Orders can also be issued to squad mates to attack a certain enemy or to move to a certain position to gain the upped hand. These orders can also specify which kind of attack should be used or which weapon should be equipped. It’s a simple squad-based system but it works.
The dialogue-wheel system makes a return in Mass Effect 3 and will be used for all major conversations during the game. Players’ responses will be categorised as either Paragon (the subtle option) or Renegade (the brash option) and this will determine how the story plays out. This system will also be used to diffuse explosive situations between different characters. This is very important as dealing with diplomats in the right way will positively contribute to the Galactic Readiness, which in turn, may decide the success or failure of the war against the Reapers. However, dealing with a situation in the wrong way may result in an alien race refusing to offer support. These decisions and consequences is where the Mass Effect series shines.
Players who enjoyed Mass Effect 2 but hated mining planets for minerals to upgrade weapons, I am happy to say that the mining feature has almost been removed entirely. It only really comes into play when retrieving items for side missions. Weapon upgrades can now be purchased with credits and are quite affordable. Customisation is also introduced in Mass Effect 3. Weapons are now able to have two attachments to either make them more powerful, have a higher ammo capacity or even to lessen the recoil when firing. It’s a nice touch and was really addictive trying to create the perfect setup for my squad.
For the first time in the series, Mass Effect has multiplayer. This comes in the form of a team-based Survival Mode, featuring different objectives. Rounds last for 10 waves of increasingly difficult enemies and squads consist of 4 players. Character classes are also available, so a well-balanced team can be created before heading into battle. The multiplayer actually interconnects with the single player campaign as it affects the Galactic Readiness with each mission undertaken. I found the multiplayer rather addictive when I first started playing it but the excitement seems to wane after a little while. I was also disappointed to find that there’s no player vs. player option at all. Honestly, I think that it would be more fun hitting a player with a Biotic attack instead of hitting an AI bot.
The game is beautiful. Characters are detailed nicely, environments look great and the different enemy types are pretty good too. Animations are well done except for the odd lip syncing hiccup now and then. In addition to that, I also had an issue with a few glitches where Shepard would end up standing in mid-air for a second and then come back down. It isn’t a game breaking glitch so players need not worry too much.
No real complaints with sound. The voice acting is really well done. Weapons also sound good. The soundtrack is great and really suits each situation very well; from sombre moments to battles of epic proportion, players will not be disappointed.
Mass Effect 3 is a great game. Aside from the side mission problem and a few graphical issues, it doesn’t disappoint. It combines smooth gameplay with a great story which takes you on an amazing journey. The new multiplayer feature will also keep you coming back. If you’re a fan of the series, you’re going to love this title.
Predominantly reviewed on Xbox 360.